Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pasta Salad--My Hero!

Yesterday was one of those days. You know...those days where you're running around like a spastic chicken working your tail off before your real 'work' begins. I have my own art studio, and a home cleaning business for people with special needs. And I just so happen to pride myself on providing a thrifty, happy little home with dinner on the table--even when I'm not around to putzy in the kitchen.

And it was the day before payday--the day when there are hardly any pennies left to stretch. And, to top it off--it was HOT, already nearly 80 degrees in our little 1930s house. I looked in the fridge, and suddenly epiphany(!), I had all the ingredients for a cool, colorful pasta salad for dinner.

First, of course, I boiled up some pasta in olive oil. We prefer the thin spaghetti, and sometimes angelhair. Easy peasy.

There was some cilantro in the crisper drawer that wasn't at it's freshest, but certainly wasn't bad, either. I chopped up the rest of it with my cleaver, which really needs a sharpening. It was worth it, though, I love the lemony clean taste of cilantro!!

Then the fun part, raiding the icebox for this and that. I chopped up a couple of tomatoes, really impatient for our garden ones to be ready. Chopped up an onion, and some celery. Cleaning the fridge and cooking something (ahead of time, no less!)--now that's the way to go.

Some salami was sitting neglected in the corner, just begging to be included in the pasta party.

The dressing was simple, and something do-able for even the emptiest cupboards. I took a scant 1/4 cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, some garlic to taste, 1/8 teaspoon of powdered mustard, 1/8 of a teaspoon of basil, a pinch of tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a sprinkling of paprika and pepper.

30 minutes, and my sanity was spared, and the leftovers gone! We served this lovely salad with icy cold red grapes, chilled glasses of water with lemon, and the last of the orange sherbet for dessert. Three cheers for the day before payday!

A Home Altar

Home is sacred. And because it is a sacred place, I believe that we create altars all over inside and out of it--sometimes without even being consciously aware of it.

The objects on the bookcase in our living room all have meaning to us. The vintage print on the wall epitomizes our view of the simple blessings of family. Dave and I were certainly not in a good financial place when we bought this piece, but we counted out the change we had accumulated in jars--we wanted it that badly. The Korean bell and the Buddhist monk figurine are souvenirs from my husband's world travels. I adore stones in any form...I believe that they give a sense of being solid and safe. And the photo on the far left is one of our son's marrying his lovely bride.

Even the bookcase has significance. I bought it as my graduation present from college, one of the few things I've ever purchased on payments. I wanted it desperately, because although I am a book fanatic, there is just something about books behind glass, that not only makes them look tidy, it also makes them look classy. This bookcase has been moved a handful of times and even jostled around the back of a semi across the country TWICE, and--knock on wood!-- the glass is still perfect.

Here is another photo, that shows just a minute fraction of our books. Most of our books are still in storage. Some people look for houses with guest rooms for visitors; we are looking for a house with guest rooms for books! We fantasize about having a formal library with hunting scenes in gilded frames and deep wing chairs. And considering my husband devours classics and political science, a library with busts of the founding fathers would be more than appropriate.

We are certainly not where we would have dreamed at this place in our life. Life has thrown us a few curve-balls, and my husband nearly died a few years ago of a dreaded MRSA infection. That infection devoured our savings and really forced us to pare down to the basics. I look at the painting on the wall, and I never fail to get a warm feeling, noticing that the living room in the piece is also spare and uncluttered and cozy, like ours. I know that we are not living big, like so many Americans, but we are living well. And I know that the family in the painting is close and warm, like ours. And I have just enough.